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Stay calm and carry on? How to deal with a sudden change in your role

Can you suggest how I can help?


I think a lot of people reading this will empathise with your question. So often, it seems, work roles aren’t what we’re promised. They can be immediately different to the ones presented to us during an application process; they can change slowly over time, without our approval; or, as in your daughter’s case, they can shift quite abruptly, suddenly becoming unfamiliar and undesirable.

Work Therapy with Jonathan Rivett

Work Therapy with Jonathan RivettCredit:John Shakespeare

The fact that your daughter feels so shaken by this transformation in her position suggests this has been a massive change.

Clinical psychologist and director at Armchair Psychology, Associate Professor Amanda Gordon believes, though, that the change itself may not necessarily be the problem.

“It sounds as if your daughter’s distress may be as much about the thing being done to her – that is, her having no choice in the matter – as anything else.

“Within three weeks – suggesting she hasn’t given it much of a chance – she’s changed from enjoying her role to looking for a new one. Perhaps she needs to deal with her anger with her employer, learn about her new role, and then decide whether she likes it enough to stay and make it work for her – or has to leave,” Associate Professor Gordon advises.

The simple fact is, that your daughter can’t remain in the role if she’s unhappy and it’s affecting her wellbeing. If she’s finding it difficult to find a new role, Associate Professor Gordon suggests that she may have to find a way to resolve the situation at her current place of work.

“If there is no alternative role, she needs to deal with those emotions and make the role work for her. It is time for her to talk to her employer to discuss the undermining of her aspirations and find a way to get the training and support she needs.

“She may need some support in finding outlets for her anger. Then she will be able to utilise the energy she has been wasting on distress to turn her work around,” Associate Professor Gordon says.

Whether your daughter can find a new job or remains in her current one, I hope she can regain the love she had for her work – and, most importantly, stays healthy.

Your question could be about a family member, a friend or you. As long as it’s work-related, Work Therapy wants to hear it. Email

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